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Charity Ball Blog

ENGAIGERS: Motorcyclists United to Make a Difference

By | Fundraisers

Evan Hoffman is a motorcycle rider and enthusiast who works for AIG (American International Group). After a visit to Africa almost 10 years ago, and learning that 6 million Africans die every year from preventable diseases, he decided to do something about it.

“I thought there must be a way to have an impact on a situation going from bad to worse. I began to think that there must be hundreds, if not thousands of bikers at AIG around the globe. What better way to have an impact than to engage the AIG biker community to help the cause? Bikers have always banded together and if you compound that with the giving spirit of AIG employees the possibilities are huge. We could have an enormous impact on a continent in dire need of help.”

In 2010 Evan launched ENGAIGERS, AIG’s global motorcycle network. The mission — engage the AIG biker community around the globe to raise funds for charitable organizations.

To kick things off he began rallying the AIG community, inviting them to ride for Virgin Unite’s Heaven’s Angels campaign. Heaven’s Angels provided motorbikes to rural healthcare workers in Africa who delivered medical supplies to people in need. Since 2010 over 300 bikers within the AIG Global Network have annually ridden and raised thousands of dollars for exemplary charities like Doctors Without Borders, The Susan G Komen Foundation and The Health & Social Development Foundation.

Evan being interviewed by NYC’s local news.

Evan (right) riding for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

This past summer, the ENGAIGERs picked Charity Ball as their 2017 charity of choice. True to form, members were invited to rally and ride for the cause during the months of July and August. Sponsored donations would match every mile/kilometer ridden up to $10,000. By the end of the project over 175 riders from 12 different countries logged 16,000+ miles!

ENGAIGERS submitted a photo of their odometer and a readable date reference at the beginning and end of the fundraising period.

On behalf of Charity Ball, we want to thank Evan and the ENGAIGER community for their incredible work and the $10,000 gift. We’re convinced that there is nothing better than using what you love to do to make the world more beautiful for others. Keep riding, keep making a difference!

-Team Charity Ball

The Beautiful Game in Uganda

By | Ball Deliveries, Recipients

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about working with children over the past five years in rural Uganda, it’s that kids love soccer. When everything else seems so unfair or uneven in a community that has abundant need, a game of soccer can be a way to level the playing field. A simple game played with a single piece of equipment (a ball) has the power to bring together people from different backgrounds, beliefs, tribes and cultures to achieve a common “goal”.

This past July, Far Away Friends partnered with Charity Ball to hand-deliver 24 soccer balls to kids in Namasale, Uganda where we work to alleviate education poverty by supporting schools in rural communities.

Our first stop in Namasale was the school that we opened in 2016, Global Leaders Primary School (GLP). Our team was warmly welcomed by our fifteen-member Administration, Teaching and non-Teaching staff who were excited to hear about our latest partnership with Charity Ball. They’d been busy planning GLP’s very first official soccer game against Namasale Central Primary School (another primary school located outside of the village in town) who they’d invited to play on our unfinished and thorny (but large!) pitch.

As our team began unpacking soccer balls one after another, our teaching staff (most notably Teacher, Sebastian, who has a deep love for soccer as a means of teaching teamwork, empathy and trust) were completely in awe. The look on their faces was something we’ll be sure not to forget for years to come.

We’d decided that we would keep several of the balls at GLP. The rest would be brought to the kids at the neighboring primary and secondary schools, and given as a gift to extend a hand of friendship. Next year, we plan to launch a program through which we will be able to support the needs and development of more schools in the Namasale area. The ability to gift a soccer ball to the kids at the schools we hope to work with, as a symbol of our future partnership, was an invaluable asset to our organization.

The day of GLP’s soccer match was one of our proudest days as an organization. Watching the students come alive and fearlessly compete against an established, (physically superior) across town team was an incredible experience.

For the last half of the game, we decided to do away with the tattered ball we’d been using and introduce one of the new soccer balls from Charity Ball. At this point of the game GLP was tied with Namasale Central 1-1. As if our own Charity Ball brought us good luck, our team scored two consecutive goals and won our very first soccer game against another school. After the final whistle, our entire staff — Ugandan AND American — stormed the field, hugging our students and screaming victory songs in the local language.

JaymeWard

By: Jayme Ward, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Far Away Friends, Inc.

Huge props to Jayme Ward and her staff & volunteers at Far Away Friends. Thanks for the empowering work that you’re doing for kids in Uganda. We’re so glad that the Charity Balls that you delivered were not only meaningful to the kids, but also a significant asset to your ongoing efforts.

Game Changer : David Bass

By | Game Changers

David is a student-athlete who is hard-core about his academics. At age 14 he’s already planning to attend an eastern US Ivy League school like Harvard or Yale. When he’s not hitting the books, he’s hitting the pitch and doing what he loves most—playing the game of soccer.

A resident of Tokyo, Japan, David plays for his American school team in the forward, winger and midfield positions. “Dribbling and taking players on is what I really enjoy,” he said.

At the beginning of summer David dropped us a note and indicated that he wanted to do something to give back. His bar mitzvah was coming up and his Rabbi encouraged him to use it raise money for a charity. With a passion for The Beautiful Game, Charity Ball made perfect sense.

After defining a big goal of $2000, he went right to work—setting up an online campaign page and inviting people in his circle to donate.

He also invited friends and family to come to an organized event on the roof of his synagogue. Here’s where it gets really cool. David’s Rabbi has a soccer-loving dog named Peter. Believe it or not, Peter is an insane goal keeper. No lie, this dog can compete with the likes of De Gea, Buffon and Neuer.

David set up a couple small goal nets and gave his guests the opportunity to shoot on Peter. Guests simply needed to make a donation in any amount to get 5 shots. If you hit the net, you’d win a prize. You’d think it would be pretty easy to score on a dog. Not Peter. David said that Peter stopped almost every shot. Check out the video below to see Peter warming up against David.

When everything was said and done, David raised a total of $3,352—that’s 137 new soccer balls. “The word Mitzvah means doing something good for others. That’s what this project has been all about,” he said.

We asked David if he had any words of advice for other kids his age.

He went on to say, “No matter how young or old you are, you can always make a difference, even if it’s a small difference. A little thing can sometimes change the world for a person, and when you give, it can also change the world for you.”

One hundred percent!

David, thanks for helping make kids’ lives more beautiful. Our world needs more game-changers like you!

—Team Charity Ball

Closer to Their Dreams in Havana, Cuba

By | Ball Deliveries

In 2016, travel restrictions from the USA to Cuba were historically lifted, making it possible for Americans to visit. Wanting to make the most of this historic opportunity, Charity Ball courier, Ginger Lu, booked a flight and set out to make the world a little more beautiful for kids on the island nation.

Ginger Lu

By: Ginger Lu.
Ginger is a freelance writer located in Chicago, IL.

Walking through the streets of Old Havana, the first thing that caught my eye were the rows and rows of colorful, but decrepit houses, and then the sounds of street vendors selling their batido de mamey or guarapo, drinks made from sugarcane and guava fruits. I rounded one corner and found myself in an old abandoned parking lot, which graffiti artists had turned into a place where children come to play sports. Even on a hot summer day, there were many children of all ages playing a pick-up game of soccer with a ball made of newspaper and crushed soda cans tied up with a piece of twine.

I approached one of the youths, Carolos, an aspiring professional soccer player at eight years old who was watching his older brother Jaime play a game with his friends. He told me that they came to the park to play every day after school. The rising popularity of the sport in recent years can be explained by increased access native Cubans have with the rest of the world.  Both children and adults can be seen playing pickup games on empty alleys and streets, making do with what little they have. Soccer fever has caught and spread with the young men of the island nation. However, soccer balls are still hard to come by for the majority of players. Apart from government and military officials, the majority of the citizens of Cuba make salaries that equal our $20 a week. Carlos said that on some days, they would have a ball to play with. More often than not, they would have to wait at least an hour until one of the lucky kids that owned a ball arrived so that they could start a game. I put one of Charity Ball’s new soccer balls in his hands and told him,”para ti, de tus amigos en los Estados Unidos.” For you, from your friends in the United States. He shouted with joy and ran off to show his brother and their friends. Within seconds, I was surrounded by happy kids hoping to get their hands on one of these prized possessions as well.

Children in the United States take these simple moments for granted, but for a child growing up in poverty, these moments mean more to them than words can explain. Jaime told me that they keep up with their favorite players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and aspire to be like them one day. Having the necessary equipment to practice will help them get one step closer to their dreams. With increased travel to Cuba opening up from the United States, we can begin to make more of a difference as time goes on to positively impact futures for hundreds of children.